COVID-19 engulfs Singapore’s Mental Health Institute

The Institute of Mental Health Singapore at Buangkok View. Photo: Google
The Institute of Mental Health Singapore at Buangkok View. Photo: Google

A new outbreak has emerged at a facility caring for Singapore’s psychiatric needs as the city struggles to contain COVID-19.

The Institute of Mental Health, or IMH, last night addressed its largest cluster of 116 cases detected from tests conducted by the hospital or patient through respiratory symptoms, saying the vast majority were “long-stay” patients who have been moved to dedicated wards.

“Patients with COVID-19 are separated and cared for in dedicated wards in IMH. Most of these patients are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms that do not warrant being transferred to acute hospitals,” it wrote in a news release.

It said the ill patients would be transferred to other hospitals if their condition worsened. More than 90% of long-term patients have been vaccinated, IMH said, adding that booster shots would be given soon. Eight of the 116 infected were employees. 

In the meantime, admissions to affected wards have been suspended, and those patients are only discharged if they test negative for COVID-19. Its Outpatient Specialist Clinics remain unaffected and will continue to see patients.

IMH said it has “strict surveillance and infection control measures” for all in the facility including routine tests of staff and swabs of admitted patients.

The Ministry of Health yesterday reported that 1,779 people are hospitalized with the disease, with 171 in critical condition and ICU utilization at 83.6% capacity.

Other active clusters with more than 100 infections include United Medical Centre at Toa Payoh and elderly homes Bukit Batok Home for the Aged and MWS Christalite Methodist Home.

Singapore yesterday recorded 3,174 cases and 14 deaths, amounting to 175,818 cases and 329 deaths in total since the start of the outbreak. As of Sunday, 84% of the nation had been fully vaccinated.

Clarification: A previous version of this story said that patients in affected wards were discharged if they tested negative for COVID-19; in fact, they must also be fit for discharge.

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